The future for Sunny Odogwu is starting to take shape. The University of Miami graduate transfer visited Michigan and UCLA last week and came away extremely impressed with both. Ann Arbor was his first stop Tuesday and the visit proved to be a hit almost from the moment he stepped off the plane.
"I met with all the coaches. They came and got me from the airport," Odogwu said. "In the evening we went to dinner with my (high school) coach, my girlfriend, and all the coaches... coach Harbaugh, coach Frey, and [Drevno]. The next morning we went to see the President (Mark Schlissel). Then we went to the medical aspect of it to check out my ankle and after that we went and talked football for a long time. It was just awesome. I just enjoyed the way the coaches presented everything. It was top class. Everything was top class, everything was tier one best. The athletic trainer, he was awesome. (The coaches) all collectively had experience in the NFL. Just the o-line collectively has 45 years of NFL experience. And with Harbaugh, the way he coaches, and the players’ energy, and the way they love each other, and the way the fans respect each player... it's just something you can't find."
The interaction with Harbaugh was particularly memorable. Odogwu, like many others, had a bigger than life impression of the Wolverines headman based what he'd seen on television. Now the former Hurricane knows his would-be coach is more of a regular guy than he is a celebrity.
"He's a great man... a great dad," said Odogwu. "He kept talking about his family. He's a great dad. He cares about each and every one of his players and everyone in the city. When we were at the airport waiting for my bag to come out, people were coming up to him (saying), 'can I take a picture with you?' He was smiling, like, 'that's the kind of person I am. I smile and I'm happy regardless of what the situation is.' He's doing what I do... Smiling and taking pictures. He's being himself. He was 100% himself. What you see on TV is what he was in real life. He's amazing, we talked and enjoyed each other. When it was time to talk ball, we talked ball. We talked football for a long time.”
All told, Odogwu's time in Ann Arbor set the recruiting bar extremely high. From there he gave UCLA the opportunity to meet or exceed it with a visit that began Wednesday night.
"Coach Mora, Coach Jedd Fisch and Hank Fraley came to the airport to come get me," Odogwu. "It was amazing. That night because I got in late, they took me to my hotel and we chatted a little bit. The next morning we had breakfast with Coach Mora, amazing coach. Similar to Jim Harbaugh, energy. They have energy. The energy and the spirit they have for the game, you can see it from the eyes. That alone was very welcoming. After breakfast we went to the campus and saw the medics, he checked out my ankle and everything because they have to do that. After that I went and met with the strength staff and athletic trainer, after academics we went to lunch and talked ball. We spoke football for a long time, basically the same thing as Michigan. It was similar to Michigan… a top-notch institution academically, football-wise, coaching staff and everything..”
With those two visits under his belt Odogwu has entered a deliberation phase. The only question is, will it the final one
“I'm not coming in as an undergrad (and) I'm not a kid anymore,” he said. “This is the last go-round, so it's all about ball and school. The thing that is left for me now is to keep praying and hopefully (early this week) God is going to reveal to me what he wants me to do.”
"My mantra is basically 'God and Guts.' Because God puts it in your heart and tells you (what to do). I have a good feeling for both schools and all that is left is to consult my mentor which is my (high school) coach. We're going to speak on the phone and to see if we're going to take any more visits, or if we're going to call it a day and choose between Michigan or UCLA. They're both top-notch institutions and the reason why I'm going there is to go somewhere I can showcase the world to show them what I can do."
Stay tuned to The Michigan Insider for more on Odogwu in the days to come.